Australia: Underneath the Stars

I spent two months camping out in Australia a couple years ago. The continent was a muse. The mountains, the waves, the winds and the stars – these were the highlights. So simple, so universal, yet not to be found anywhere else. So stark were the clouds, and the perfume of the wilding flowers, the landscapes became impressionistic in the haziness of the heat, the colors of the flushing sun faintly rising to radiance. The kookaburras raucously laughed high above in the eucalyptus trees. I never felt the burden of time. It was an enveloping place of simplicity, beauty, chill and freedom. The best way to take it all in is on the road and in a tent.

Australia: Music in Melbourne

Everyone is in need of music. Every inch of us is affected by certain melodies; whether one reacts to acoustics or hard-core rock – melodies that flow through our fingers, make our limbs quiver, our heads sway, our lips tremble. I find music especially powerful when I’m traveling. I associate most songs with different memories, many of which have come from my travels. Some songs intensify moments – watching the sunset over water, visiting a cathedral, camping out in the desert; songs can help us appreciate the small wonders of the world and help us preserve the most significant memories of our lives. On my gap year, I spent two months in Australia and found their culture of music to be happily all pervasive.

WorldWide ZooGuide

I worked at the National Zoo in Washington DC this summer, and three years ago I picked up kangaroo poop at Australia Zoo near Brisbane. I realized that I have prowled around more zoos as an adult than I care to admit, so here is my zoo guide to the best five zoological parks you should visit before you die. Zoo Lovers unite.